GRID 2.0 could be an chance revolutionize Society by catalyzing two critical resources…
People have been hearing more Mainstream Media buzz around Smart Grid or GRID2.0 initiatives. Some have even considered the finer points of the debates that have sprung out from the power struggles that are going on behind the scenes – mostly arising from the proposed methods and standards that would be applied to unify the current patchwork of disparate electrical transmission systems that we call “The Grid”. This need to get competing interests to actually cooperate on common initiatives is only one of the biggest challenges to overcome in leapfrogging over simple upgrades, and actually re-building our electrical distribution systems to meet the emerging needs of the 21st Century.
Some people will simply presume that these initiatives are just another example of the Corporate world wishing to cut it’s costs through new efficiencies, by updating equipment or infrastructure at the expense of Customers and Taxpayers. While this may well be true, the biggest opportunities (and risks to corporate hegemony) actually revolve around the emerging protocols and standards that threaten to democratize monopolistic hierarchies, open up delivery systems to smaller suppliers, and take full advantage of the enormous opportunities to fully optimize (and even automate) the basic economic principals of Supply and Demand with lightening fast methods based on remote sensing and network communications.
How could such a pervasive part of modern life still be so easily misunderstood?
Electricity is the invisible force at the very center of almost all the enabling technologies of our Modern world, and has filled this role for quite awhile now, so it might come as a surprise to many that it actually doesn’t operate anywhere near as well as it could, or should. In fact, this incredibly powerful and pervasive amenity has actually been under increasing pressure and burden as a result of its poorly aging design concepts that are based in distribution principals set down well over a century ago, and which are now are in dire need of upgrading.
By looking at some of the ‘Smart Grid’ or Grid 2.0 concepts that have been getting renewed attention of late, we see all sorts of progressive ideas to better deliver a product that already travels to the Customer at the speed of light, but that is currently still often getting managed and brokered via analogue links and mechanical switches, along distribution systems that were never really meant to accept power, rather than distribute it…and that’s just where the shortcomings begin.
Unlike BIO-Engineering, which seeks to apply pure Science via Technological processes to produce engineered results in Biological fields (from GM’d corn, to the materials of Orthpaedic hip-joint replacement hardware), GEO-Engineering seeks to take the same approach to producing engineered results for the entire Earth, in order to effect positive changes to our environment. Regrettably, the term Geo-Engineering seems to have been misappropriated and popularized as a description of Ecological or Environmental engineering applications on a global scale, even though the terms Enviro, Global, or ECO-Engineering would likely have been much more appropriate descriptors for this sort of work. Unfortunately for the real Geo-Engineers out there (who’ve been working long and hard on true Geological Engineering), the term GEO has already been co-opted by Environmentalists, adopted by the Media, and is now popularized to represent applied technological solutions to our most pressing issues around Climate Change. So thanks to prevailing trends in the Media, Geo-Engineering has effectively come to mean something else entirely to all of us who are not engineers.
Geo-Engineering has been categorical science since the Sixties (when it first became popular to believe that Technology could fix anything), and it seems to be finally coming into vogue after being brought to back to public attention by mainstream Media sources such as the New York Times. Geo-Engineering (as we currently accept the poorly named field) has become a notably complex endeavor that requires the collection, collation and application of knowledge from three VERY large areas of study:
* Scientific disciplines including Climatology, Biochemistry, Ecology, Meteorology and several subsets of Biology and Physics
* Engineering disciplines including aeronautical, naval, architectural, ballistics, propulsion, and materials Engineering.
* Regulatory/Management and other control disciplines such as business process and risk management, and realtime operational research…and of course an insanely complex and interdependent maze of International Politics, Regulations, Diplomacy, and Trade.
Before delving into these ridiculously broad categories of study, first, let’s just put away any indignant or ignorant self-righteousness about “playing God” with the environment. Instead, let’s simply admit that we’ve already been toying with our Ecology, and changing the Earths environment in countless ways for a long time now already.
Whether it’s by altering watersheds and aquifers, re-engineering entire drainage systems for irrigation or hydro power, or by clearcutting the heat and CO2 consuming capacity of entire forests, and let’s not forget the ongoing and always contentious issues behind enormous volumes of CO2 (and other more potent greenhouse gases) escaping into the atmosphere, as Humans we are already very deeply ensnared in the tricky game of Geo-Engineering. Thus the dire scenarios described as AGW, or “Anthropogenic” (man-made) Global Warming are directly attributed to Human activities, which nobody questions as being capable of changing an entire planet.
So since we’ve already been behaving like foolish Gods (or rather like some lesser being that has self-provisioned itself with Godlike dominion over nature according to some self-distorting Judeao-Christian fallacy) let’s then look at the risks of Geo-Engineering more realistically.
– IMPACT REPORT –
Thorium has somehow survived its early demise…
Now it stands poised to fuel a limitless Future if we can change the course of history !
The nuclear debate continues to put forward large scale alternatives to fossil-fueled Society, but has never included a much better option, when it comes to managing the waste and risks. This tragedy is essentially the result of politics, not science, since there likely isn’t a more misunderstood and overlooked element on the Periodic Table than Thorium.
Despite its enormous potential to safely power both the developing world and our modern societies through the self-regulating energy production of the little known “Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor” (LFTR). This long-mothballed reactor design is gaining great new attention in other parts of the world because it produces only small amounts radioactive waste (which fully decay in a few hundred years, rather than many thousands), offers no realistic potential for easy weaponization, and in fact enables the destruction of weapons grade materials. Thorium astoundingly still remains an elemental mystery to most people to this very day however. Mainly because it’s early and successful development in the U.S. was nixxed in favor of the Uranium-based weapons programs in the 50’s and 60’s.